NXT Recap: January 21st 2015

As NXT speeds onto the next Takeover event on February 11th, this edition was a packed show which produced a lot of intrigue. Of course, the main story pushing towards the latest live special is the personal rivalry between NXT Champion Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. The former lifelong friends have been at each other’s throats in recent weeks, since Owens turned on Zayn during his championship celebration. Zayn will be looking to get his hands on Owens finally to teach him a lesson in respect.

In one of the most stacked episodes in recent memory, Sasha Banks receives another opportunity to capture the NXT Women’s Championship against Charlotte, after pinning the Nature Girl in a tag team match last week. Can the Boss finally become the Best, or does Charlotte still have her former BFF’s number?

Also, there is the launching of a brand new tournament to determine the next Number One Contender for the NXT Championship, as Finn Balor battles Curtis Axel and Hideo Itami faces Tyler Breeze. And if that wasn’t enough, the Vaudevillains are also in action, taking on the combination of Wesley Blake & Buddy Murphy.

Quick Results

  • Sami Zayn vs. Tye Dillinger doesn’t take place
  • Finn Balor defeats Curtis Axel
  • NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte defeats Sasha Banks by disqualification
  • Wesley Blake & Buddy Murphy defeat The Vaudevillains
  • Hideo Itami defeats Tyler Breeze

Sami Zayn vs. Tye Dillinger; William Regal Sets Match For Takeover

The music of the NXT Champion blares around the Full Sail arena, but it’s not the usual singing and dancing routine from an irate Sami Zayn. He charges down to the ring with a purpose, launching a vicious assault onto Tye Dillinger before their match can take place. A flurry of punches followed by throwing Dillinger out to ringside as the crowd get firmly behind the champ. Zayn grabs the microphone, screaming to get Kevin Owens out to the ring now. Owens has twice blindsided Zayn with an attack, and the redhead is determined to get some payback.

Owens doesn’t appear however, as instead it is the NXT General Manager William Regal. He does his best to try and calm down Zayn, but the champion persists that he will not compete in another match until he gets his hands on Owens. Regal takes the position that Owens has not earned a championship opportunity as of yet, and so cannot rightly battle Zayn with the title on the line. Zayn then responds with the offer that this be a non-title match, and requests that Regal makes this match once again. Regal relents on the strength of Zayn’s desire to get retribution, stating that at Takeover, Sami Zayn will face Kevin Owens in a non-title match.

This aggressive side of Zayn does not come out very often, which just makes this match seem so much more important. The rivalry and friendship these two have shared in their time at ROH has yet to be exposed on this scale, and so fans of NXT are in for a treat. The animosity fueling this bout will be sure to kick off 2015 with a bang.

Finn Balor vs. Curtis Axel

With Kevin Owens not yet deemed worthy of an NXT Championship opportunity, the fair-minded William Regal has determined that a tournament should decide the next Number One Contender. Eight superstars will battle for the opportunity to challenge Sami Zayn in the near future for the coveted belt. In the first quarter-final match, the technically gifted Finn Balor will battle a man that has wrestling in his genes, Curtis Axel.

Highlights

Balor connecting with a dropkick that rivals AJ Style’s for the best in the business. Axel’s attempt is none too shabby either.

Axel playing the heel really effectively.

Great Slingblade by Balor, followed up by a charging dropkick into the turnbuckle.

Crowd Reaction

“Finn is gonna kill you” – reference to his Carnage face paint

“Let’s go Balor”

Low Points

There seemed to be some sort of musical malfunction that was a bit of a distraction

Finish

Balor connects with the Double Foot Stomp from the top rope to get the pin

A good match, if somewhat hampered by a lack of time to really see these two work. If I had one major complaint, it would be that Axel wasn’t really given much chance to combat the momentum of Balor at the climax. He was essentially hit with the Irishman’s signature moves without much chance to battle back. Still, the manner in which Balor has carried himself so far in his time at NXT, he is right to be considered a championship contender.

Rating – 3/5

Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks (NXT Women’s Championship)

Once again, Sasha Banks is given an opportunity to battle for the NXT Women’s Championship, and finally get a victory over Charlotte with the stakes at their highest. Banks managed to pin the champion in a tag team contest last week, but has yet to do the same with the title on the line, despite some excellent performances. Although this is their third championship match in just over a month, it would still be looked forward to with great expectation, due to the talent and chemistry the pair have shown.

Highlights

It’s incredible how interesting these two could make a match with just a lock-up – heavy bump to ringside

Hesitation scoop slam by Charlotte demonstrating her power

Crowd Reaction

Crowd behind both athletes for periods of the match

Low Points

Match too short to really consider any low points

Finish

Becky Lynch interferes to assault the champion, bringing a DQ finish. Banks didn’t seem to appreciate this, but both turned their attention to Charlotte, before Bayley made her return to chase the pair away. Bayley grabbed the title and stared at it intently, before Charlotte pulled it away from her. This resulted in Bayley hitting the Bayley-to-Bayley on Charlotte to a massive reaction. William Regal makes another appearance to make a championship match for Takeover, as Charlotte will defend against Banks, Lynch and Bayley in a Fatal Four-Way.

The match itself was nothing much to talk about, as it was merely a prelude to the interesting occurrences after the bell. Banks and Lynch seem to be on different pages, and having to battle each other at Takeover could damage their relationship significantly. But, the most compelling aspect is Bayley’s desire to be champion, and how that will shift her usual bubbly persona in pursuit of the belt. It would take something special for Charlotte’s reign to withstand these odds.

Rating (Match) – N/A

Wesley Blake & Buddy Murphy vs. The Vaudevillains

With the Lucha Dragons sitting high atop the Tag Team Division in NXT with the Ascension no longer around, it is time for some of the other teams on the roster to step up and take a chance to capture the gold. So, a match between two of the better teams on the roster should help determine the next challengers. The Vaudevillains are the most established team around, their teamwork and chemistry a dastardly combination for most opponents. But Wesley Blake & Buddy Murphy’s potential has got a number of fans buzzing, and maybe they could step up to become the next challengers with victory here.

Highlights

Great heel kick by Murphy on English

The old-school approach by the Vaudevillains is oddly refreshing and really befitting their characters

Unexpected reversal by Murphy during a double team to get the hot tag to Blake

Crowd Reaction

Crowd pretty quiet throughout, though did look to get behind Blake and Murphy when necessary

Low Points

The hot tag didn’t get a huge reaction, so perhaps it could have been built up to more

Finish

Blake pinned English after a kick from outside by Murphy knocked the Artiste for a loop.

An upset victory it may have been for Blake and Murphy, but this win has been a long time coming for their team. It’s still difficult to take them as seriously as you would like due to their lack of a team name, but their tandem offense has really impressed me over the past few months. Their strength, athleticism and versatility have really made me think they could benefit the WWE tag team roster in the future. The Lucha Dragons better be on notice.

Rating – 2.5/5

Hideo Itami vs. Tyler Breeze

The second quarter-final match of the Number One Contender tournament pits Hideo Itami against Tyler Breeze. The International Sensation has finally washed the Ascension out of his hair, and can finally focus on the reason he says he arrived at NXT, to become its champion. His opponent Breeze has come close on a number of occasions to becoming champion during Adrian Neville’s reign. With Sami Zayn now at the helm and Breeze having a solid record against the champ, Prince Pretty will be especially determined to overcome Itami and progress further.

Highlights

Breeze desperately avoiding any kick directed towards his face, hiding behind the referee

Breeze ducking two kicks to the head, only to be caught with a knee to the gut

Excellent neckbreaker by Breeze just before the break

Strong leg sweep by Itami

Great to see Itami employ more wrestling grapples than simply just rely on kicks

Awesome looking Crucifix Pin slam by Breeze, really inventive

Crowd Reaction

The name Hideo fits so well into a chant, it might be one of the best name changes in WWE history

“Total Diva” – great chant directed at Breeze – well done to the fans there

Low Points

Not to keen on the finish if I’m being picky, just didn’t seem like a strong enough finishing move

Finish

A running kick to the face by Itami earns him the victory over Breeze

An excellent match to close the show between these fine athletes. I’ve longed to see Breeze in more of these extended matches after a number of quick, uninspiring contests. He has genuine talent both in the ring and as a performer, and he provided a great deal in making this match a definitive success. But Itami is the man on fire at the moment, and he is looking  more comfortable and formidable week by week. The crowd are behind him, his kicks and slaps add a new dimension of the Japanese style that is entertaining and effective, and having him move on was the correct decision. Still, Breeze will hopefully continue to make an impact as he deserves a spotlight for his efforts.

Rating – 4/5

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